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With the number of languages being spoken at home exceeding 400, it’s no surprise that Australia is a country thriving with cultural diversity. Children are naturally curious and begin to notice different races, ethnicities, and languages from as young as six months of age. With so many cultures making up our beautiful country, where do you even start in terms of introducing your children to them?

Cultural diversity is defined as people who identify with particular groups based on their place of birth, ethnicity, beliefs, or country of origin. Introducing kids to different countries and cultures from a young age and explaining the way things work in different parts of the world can help them better understand and celebrate different cultures and people, and any similarities that may be shared. Exposing your kids to different cultures may sound tricky, but it can be worked into your daily routine by incorporating simple and fun activities that you can do together.

Incorporating Cultural Diversity 

•• Reading stories together – Reading together with your children has a huge range of benefits and helps with the development of literacy and language skills. Pick a book with a topic about a culture different to your own.

•• World map – If you don’t already have a map of the world, now’s the time to buy one and hang it on the wall! Use it to explore the countries together with your child. Explain to them what the climate is like there, what people eat there, and what animals live there – your little ones will have many questions and this map will help put the world and its cultures into perspective.

•• Cook authentic recipes – Teriyaki chicken, beef tacos and butter chicken curry are just a few authentic recipes that are both easy to prepare and loved by kids. As a plus for you, you can find easy-to-prepare simmer sauces and seasonings for many of these recipes in most  supermarkets.

•• Learn cultural etiquettes – This one is more suitable for older children. Cultural etiquettes are interesting to learn even if you don’t plan to travel to the country in question, and it may take you by surprise how different table manners or gestures can be in other cultures.

•• Money – If you’ve done some travelling in the past yourself and collected foreign money over the years, invite your kids to count or play with it. Don’t have any foreign money? Play-money works, too.

•• Observe holidays – Many countries and cultures observe different holidays than Australia. Why not do a little bit of research and discover the holidays celebrated in other countries?

•• Learn the language – Of course, you don’t have to learn the entire language, but learning simple phrases like “I love you” in another language can be educational and fun to learn.

Discovering Culture in Cairns

Cairns Multicultural Month
August marks Cairns Multicultural Month, which provides an opportunity for the community to build and promote appreciation and acceptance for the diverse cultures of the Cairns region. The month is put in place to strengthen meaningful and respectful connections within the community, and aims to educate in a creative, informative, and fun way.

CARMA Multicultural Festival
This event takes place on 18 August at Fogarty Park, featuring cultural dance groups, traditional food stalls, arts and crafts, painting stalls, children’s games, and prizes to be won. The event is free, child-friendly and an ideal way to discover the cultures of the world in a fun way, with family entertainment being provided all day long.

Orchid Plaza
Located in the heart of the Cairns CBD, Orchid Plaza is filled with small stores and casual food options perfect for introducing your children to various cultures such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Indian. You’ll find plenty of food options including many
kid-friendly ones like curry, pho, sushi, Vietnamese spring rolls, and other delicious cuisines.

While you’re here, why not pop into one of the gift shops or Maruyu, Cairns’ only Japanese convenience store?

Cairns Chinese Friendship Garden
Located within the Cairns Botanic Gardens, The Cairns Chinese Friendship Garden features tranquil freshwater and saltwater lakes as well as walkways and several viewing platforms. The garden is a celebration of the sister city relationship between Cairns and Zhanjiang, a city in the southern part of Mainland China. While the garden is a symbol of Chinese history and culture, it is also an excellent attraction and leisurely walk in Cairns.

Out for dinner
Cairns has a huge range of restaurants offering cuisines from all around the world. Why not step out of your comfort zone and try something new? Popular options around Cairns include Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Mexican, Indonesian, French, Italian, German, and Swedish options, as well as many more.

If your kids are picky or reluctant to try something new, start off with dishes that are kid-friendly, such as ramen, spring rolls, quesadillas, or spaghetti, to name a few.

Multicultural Organisations and Clubs

Cairns has a number of multicultural organisations and clubs to bring people together and celebrate their culture.

CARMA – Cairns and Region Multicultural Association

Australia Japan Society

Cairns & District Chinese Association

Cairns Indonesian-Australian Association Inc.

Cairns Indian Association

German Club Cairns

Russian Speakers Association Cairns

Next time you’re not sure what to cook, read, or where to take the family this weekend – consider exploring a different culture and opening the minds of your kids to the many wonderful and diverse communities of the world!